Almost four lakh ration cards in Delhi are likely to be cancelled in April due to “suspicious circumstances” — from duplication to improper issuance of the card, said officials of the Food and Civil Supplies Department.
This comes at a time when the Delhi government has approved doorstep delivery of ration scheme under the public distribution system, and sent it to the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal for approval. While doing so, both CM Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia had spoken about the “ration mafia” and claimed that there were attempts to stop the scheme to aid alleged black marketeers.
As per data from the Food and Civil Supplies Department, for the past two months, “almost four lakh card holders haven’t collected their ration”. In January, of the 19.41 lakh ration card holders, 15.15 lakh collected ration, while about 31,000 persons faced issues with the Aadhaar-based identification system before receiving food supplies.
In February, of the 19.45 lakh ration card holders, 15.29 lakh collected ration, while 20,000 faced problems with the Aadhaar-based system.
“In January, only 2% of those who collected their ration faced problems due to the new system. In February, this went down 1.3%. But the system allowed us to realise that there were about 4 lakh card holders who were suspects,” said an official. The official added that there were provisions within the National Food Security Act which led to the cancellation of ration cards if the holder fails to turn up for three months in a row.
The official said, “Already in March, almost 50% of the ration has been distributed. We will monitor the situation this month, following which we will follow due process and issue notices to these people to respond within 10 days. If they fail to do so, we will cancel these ration cards.”
Under the National Food Security Act, there is a limit to the number of cards to be made — 70% of the population in rural areas and 50% in urban areas. “There is a waiting list of nearly 1.5 lakh persons who have applied for the card. This will also allow us to issue cards to those who are in need and are not being able to get access to the scheme because of the existing cap,” said the official.
Anjali Bhardwaj, co-convener of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, said that the department “needs to undertake a survey to find out what the problem is”.